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Wellington – Rival captainsKieran ReadandDuane Vermeulenmay be mates off the field but they are set for a “massive” confrontation when two of rugby’s fiercest rivals clash in Wellington on Saturday.
It will be “guns blazing”, Vermeulen warned as the battle of the loose forwards, led by the two bruising back rowers, took centre stage ahead of a match both sides see as a trial for players to force their way into World Cup contention.
Read and Vermeulen both used the word “massive” to describe the historic All Blacks-Springbok rivalry.
“It epitomises what they’re about and their physical approach and never giving up attitude. It’s the same things we do as well,” Read said.
Much had been made of the All Blacks’ bold decision to start both their two world-class flyhalves – with Beauden Barrett at 15 and Richie Mo’unga wearing 10 – in their search for winning combinations going into the World Cup in September.
But when experimenting with the crucial loose forward trio, coach Steve Hansen has sacrificed experience, with neither Sam Cane nor Ardie Savea required to suit up.
Starting flankers Shannon Frizell and Matt Todd with Vaea Fifita and Dalton Papalii on
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